Palm Beach County Schools say ‘NO’ to Charter Schools USA (CSUSA) and duplicative, inefficient school choice. This is more than an anti charter complaint. It is a call to enforce the original legislative purpose for charter schools in Florida.
The district has drawn a line in the sand to approve only charter that provide innovative approaches to learning. Florida charter school legislation mandates that districts ensure charters are innovative. Yet, most charters simply reproduce the same instructional approaches used in traditional public schools. This is the argument that the Palm Beach School Board made in its decision to deny the applications for two charters managed by CSUSA. The State Board of Education over ruled the Palm Beach Board’s decision. Now, Palm Beach is going to court.
It is not possible to claim that the school board simply opposes charter schools. According to the Sun Sentinel, three new charters have been approved. One is targeted to help children with autism, another focuses on at risk students, and a third provides bilingual education.
Florida’s legislation does not define what it means to be innovative. Thus, the Palm Beach school board created its own definition: “introducing or using new ideas or methods or having new ideas about how learning methods can be performed in this school district.” The policy goes on to require that the charter must “improve upon the status quo in this geographical area”.
The Florida League of Women Voters recommendations from its 2014 study on school choice state that charter schools should serve as a complement to, not a competitor of, traditional public schools. The 4th District Court of Appeal will be the next step in the process of making charter schools adhere to the original legislative intent.